Dark Chapter


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Scene Title Dark Chapter
Synopsis In the wake of Kay Damaris' abduction, Eizen Erizawa turns to unlikely allies.
Date January 28, 2021

Refracted blue light modes in shifting waves across the walls and ceiling, an endless ocean in three dimensions. Long shadows cast by watery light dance and undulate like sailors to a siren’s song, shifting with the rhythm of the tides. But there is no ocean here, no true tides, just a simulation enough to make a prison more like home.

Francesca Lang watches the dark shape of a shark cut through the air in front of her, moving behind a foot thick wall of glass, its beady black eye focused on her with an unblinking, predatory intent. But she knows it can’t see her, not from inside the tank it’s contained in. The shark knifes through the water, tail sweeping from side to side as it picks up speed. No one else is around, yet she can hear footsteps.

From a doorway into another exhibit, a tall and slim man in a black suit cuts a shark’s silhouette across the floor, brows furrowed and dark eyes fixed on Chess not entirely unlike the shark. Her watch beeps once, softly, and assures her that Eizen Erizawa is right on time. He makes his approach, coming to stand beside Chess, hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks and shoulders squared. He doesn’t look like he’s slept in a while.

Chess has a few ideas why.

Mellen Aquarium
Brighton Beach

January 28th
8:37 pm

“I’m glad you came on short notice,” Eizen says with a tightness in his jaw, a tightness in his voice. “Ms. Nakamura would have wanted to be here in person.”

Despite the fact the shark is the one in the prison, Chess feels small and penned in, herself, for some reason. She’s on edge, not knowing what this is about and not having seen anyone from Yamagato since she left the safe harbor they had offered to her. They might have seen it as a betrayal — that and her part in what had happened to Kam Nisatta.

Of course, since then, she’s learned that Kaito Nakamura was the engineer of her very existence — not something she feels she owes to the man.

She turns when she hears the digital herald of his arrival, a small, polite smile not quite masking the uncertainty in her gaze. At the name Nakamura, indicating not Kaito but Kimiko, Chess dips her head slightly, her smile fading.

“I’m so sorry to hear about that,” she says, not lifting her hands from the pockets of her camel-colored coat to offer a handshake, unless he does first, subtly mirroring his own position. “I hope for the sake of the others, SESA or DOE figures out what happened soon and can keep the same from happening to them.” She manages to temper her emotions and keep her tone even, somber but professional, despite the anger and worry she feels about whatever is happening to the survivors of the plane wreck, her friends and half-sister among them.

“One can hope.” Eizen says distractedly, watching the shark ply the waters of the massive tank. “Or, hope can be taken in hand, and wielded like a knife.” His attention shifts over to Chess, tone still conversational. “There has been an incident inside the company. Kay Damaris, one of our executive-level employees, has been abducted.” News of Kay’s abduction certainly didn’t hit the news, and from the choice of meeting place and the lack of law enforcement around it implies more at work than the obvious.

“We believe Kaydence is being held in or near the corporate headquarters for Renautas-Weiss Industries’ Toronto office.” Eizen explains, hands tucked into the pockets of his suit jacket. “The matter is one that Kimiko desired to handle privately, for a number of reasons. As such, we’re looking to assemble a team to handle her rescue… off the books.”

Eizen turns to face Chess, his long shadows dancing in shifting light across the floor, sometimes crossed by the shadow of the shark. “Where this comes for you is twofold. Knowing what you’re capable of, I would’ve wanted to hire you on the spot. But I have reason to believe this may just be more personal than money to you.”

As he watches the shark, Chess watches him, her dark eyes guarded, but there’s curiosity there too, in the cant of her head as he speaks.

She’s quiet, letting the implications of his words unfurl in the silence. Off the books gives her some pause, given the fact Chess feels she should belong in prison alongside Alix and Eve. One brow lifts as he speaks of what she’s capable of, and she pulls one hand out of her pocket to push a strand of long blond hair behind her ear.

At the word personal, the second brow lifts, her expression a silent query that she follows up at last with voice.

“I never met Ms. Damaris,” she begins, quietly, “but I am sorry to hear that. I do owe Kimiko in some ways — and Yamagato by extension, I suppose. But,” she pauses, looking to the shark as it carves a path toward the glass again, before moving back into the shadows of the water, “I don’t feel like that’s what you mean.” Her eyes study his, as if their dark depths might give her insight into what he’s not saying.

“Does this have to do with what happened to her and the others who crashed in Manitoba?” That’s more personal — by her count, anyway, with three friends and a sibling, along with Kimiko affected — than her debts to Yamagato.

“We believe so.” Eizen acknowledges with a nod. “We believe the people who kidnapped Ms. Damaris are the same ones responsible for the abduction and the plane crash. Moreover, we have reason to believe that the board members of Praxis Heavy Industries who escaped justice in China and California may be involved as well.”

Slowly approaching the shark tank, Eizen watches the majestic beast moving through the crystal clear water. “We believe that Erica Kravid and Claudius Kellar, two of Adam Monroe’s inner circle, are present at this compound.” Which means the federal government should be involved. But they aren’t. “This is personal for all of us.”

Eizen looks back at Chess, swallowing audibly. “We would like to close this dark chapter in our shared history, Ms. Lang. I don’t believe I need to impress on you how important this is.”

As Chess has never been adept at hiding her emotions, her expressions, despite her silence, are easily read. Surprise and anger flicker through her face before settling into a more stable expression of general worry and questioning. Her head tilts, and she looks to the shark over his shoulder, then back to him.

“I want to help,” she says. “You likely know of my personal connections, with Jac and Gillian Childs and of course Asi. I consider a couple of others my friends as well, so yes, this is important to me, especially given many of them are not capable of doing something like this right now.”

Her expression is grim, considering that just shy of two weeks ago, at least a couple of those connections had strokes, and the others a few months before.

“But,” Chess continues, her eyes cutting over to the shark as it carves through the water again, having made another circuit of the tank, “I do have two questions. First: why do you trust me? Why did Kimiko still trust me, after what I did and after I left for Japan — for Praxia?”

“Because everything you did she expected,” is Eizen’s uncomfortable answer. “Kimiko always intended for Monica to go to Japan free of Yamagato’s influence, as bait for Adam. She knew who you were, what you would mean to Adam, and she knew that the only way you could get inside his operation was if it seemed you were more likely an enemy of Yamagato Industries than an ally.”

Eizen slowly turns to look at Chess, brows furrowed. “I know that isn’t a comforting answer, but Kimiko was not a comforting person. She’s shrewd, efficient, and practical. Her brother was the emotional one, and that’s why she took control of Yamagato. So much like her father.”

Putting his back to the shark, Eizen turns to face Chess. “To answer your question, she trusted in your self-interests. It would seem she chose right. Praxis is gone, Adam is… I’m not sure. But our enemies are scattered, desperate. Making reckless decisions. Now we’ll make them pay twofold.”

“That’s even less comforting,” Chess murmurs at the mention of Kaito Nakamura, but she nods at the honest answer. Or at least what seems like an honest answer. If he wanted to lie, the answer could have been less disturbing, after all.

Quiet for a moment, she brings her gaze back to him as Eizen faces her. “Adam is compromised.” The euphemism is accompanied by a firm look to indicate just what she means without having to say so many words. “Or was, last I heard.”

“My second question — obviously I’ve got a record of doing things ‘off the books,’ so I’m hardly a rule follower, but after Detroit, I might have used up most of my ‘get out of jail free’ cards,” Chess says, tone wry. “That’s not a no yet, but I’m curious: why aren’t you going official with this? If this company’s doing what you say they are, I’d think the US government and the Canadian government would want to do something about it. At least, I hope they would.”

Eizen looks over at Chess, shadows and light cast by the water in the shark tank dance across his face. “There are many things Yamagato Industries prefers to handle outside of the eye of governments. If this is our mess, we need to clean it up ourselves.”

That answer is more in line with the kind of corporate non-speak Chess was expecting. It’s clear Eizen doesn’t trust her with the truth, or perhaps he doesn’t want to make her responsible for knowing it. But she’s heard things like this before, and the end result is always the same. They think she’s better off not knowing.

“Can I count on you to be there?” Eizen asks, dark eyes unwavering from Chess’.

Her eyes study his, thoughtful, appraising, and just as unwavering, if less intense. A few beats pass, long enough for the shark to carve its circuitous path through the water and appear again behind Eizen’s shoulders.

That Chess finds his gaze similar to the shark’s is a disconcerting realization, but there is little she wouldn’t do to help those she calls friends or family.

And she’s sure he knows it.

“If there’s any legal fallout from this for me and if Yamagato would be able to help protect me from it, I would expect and appreciate that courtesy,” Chess says quietly. The first if seems likely, but the second if depends on many things.

“Of course,” is Eizen’s quiet way of affirming Chess’ stipulations to the arrangement. He turns his attention back to the shark cutting through crystal clear water. An apex predator without any prey.

“But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

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